Will public pools in Western NY be on lockdown all summer? CDC regulations, lifeguard shortages dim chances of opening


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–With this week’s heat and humidity, many frazzled parents are likely counting the days until their neighborhood swimming pools open up, but this summer Western New Yorkers might be waiting a little longer than usual–or, worse yet, their local pools might not open at all.

There are a number of variables local officials have to consider before deciding when or if to open their municipal swimming pools. But the state is holding most of the cards, and so far, pools have not been a high priority.

With tax collections down, and public expenditures way up due to the coronavirus pandemic, local governments are strapped for cash.

City officials in Buffalo say, they are getting local pools ready, regardless of when the state gives the okay.

Public Works Commissioner Michael Finn said it has been an ongoing effort, “We are doing the regular maintenance that we do on pools during this time, so we will be ready if the pools are able to open.”

Mayor Byron Brown is optimistic those looking to cool in the pool will continue to follow safety and health guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“For the most part, people have followed guidelines very well in Buffalo, Erie County, and Western New York. We need to make sure people do not let their guard down, and they keep their mask up.”

Local officials have pointed out CDC guidelines for social distancing and wearing masks–even at public pools–are strict, and tough to enforce.

Hiring lifeguards for the public swimming pools has been especially tough for many local governments, this year, because of tight budgets. Some are considering keeping the pools closed, while opening the splash pads because they don’t require lifeguards.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here.

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